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June 2024 newsletter

What is clear is that the Earth is mandating that the human community assume a responsibility never assigned to any previous generation… Our task at this critical moment is to awaken the energies needed to create the new world and to evoke the universal communion of all parts of life.
(Thomas Berry, priest and cultural historian)

Earth Democracy connects people in circles of care, co-operation and compassion instead of dividing them through competition and conflict, fear and hatred.
(Vandana Shiva, scientist, environmental activist and food sovereignty advocate)

Welcome to the June edition of Localising Leanganook’s e-newsletter.  We recently decided that we would include interviews in this newsletter to spotlight some of the many local people who are doing exciting, inspiring things in our community and beyond. These will alternate with the articles from local writers that we have been featuring at the head of each edition. In this month’s newsletter, we are kicking this off with an interview with Dan and Nicola from Open Fields Co-Living Homestead in Muckleford, along with our regular update on upcoming local events and a selection of interesting articles we have come across over the past month. We hope you enjoy it.

Cheers, Nikki, Keppel, and Laurel

Note to Contributors and Readers

As you can see, Localisising Leanganook’s e-news grows from strength to strength reaching more than 700 subscribers. The monthly newsletter  includes an ever expanding range of localising events, programs and creative initiatives  in  our central Victorian region.  If you’ve got items for inclusion in the July or future editions, let our editing team know – (nikki.marshall@mmnet.com.au). To help our editing team please email through information you’d like included in the following format:

  • program/project/event name plus date, time and location if relevant
  • summary of event/issue/program, in word format,
  • accompanying photo as a jpeg or png

June’s edition includes:

  1. Special Feature: Open Fields Co-Living Interview
  2. Arts and Culture
  3. Food Growing, Farming and Food Security
  4. Ecology and Environment
  5. First Nations
  6. Sustainable Living Resources
  7. Building Community
  8. Local Government News
  9. Workshops and Courses
  10. Letters
  11. Food for Thought

Special Feature: Open Fields Co-Living Interview

Nicola and Dan are founding members of Open Fields Co-Living Homestead, an innovative new intentional community in Mount Alexander Shire. Situated on 10 acres in Muckleford, Open Fields is based on the model of a single, shared dwelling with communal kitchen, living room and garden. I spoke with them as they were putting the final finishing touches on the building in preparation for moving in with fellow residents in the coming weeks.

Keppel: could you both tell me a bit about yourselves and what brought you to the point where you are now with creating this co-living homestead?

Nicola: It’s been a dream that’s been percolating for a long time, but I think a good way to summarise it is that we both identify as activists, or we used to be activists, and we got pretty tired of fighting against things that we don’t want to see, and wanted to create what we do want to see, and this was a big part of that. It seemed to tick a whole lot of boxes. We just want to live in a way that is better for the planet, but we think that this way of living is better for people as well.  We wanted to create that and see if it was possible, and show other people that it’s possible.

Dan: I was in a number of organisations, most recently Extinction Rebellion but also Earthworker and Food Sovereignty Alliance in the past, and I think often those organisations need support days and integration days if they’re planning a year, planning actions or coming together to rejuvenate, and so thinking about our property as not just housing or farming, but being there to support activists to come and camp and use the facilities, and be integrated into that broader network of people fighting for important causes.

Keppel: Thinking about the housing model that you’ve created, what was it about that model (co-living under one roof) that appealed to you? Because there are more or less interconnected ways of doing community living. So I’m curious about what it was that made you decide that this was the right way for you?

Dan: It’s a good question. I think it’s just from a pragmatic point of view as a starting point. If everybody is living under the same roof together it’s far more resource efficient, both initially and ongoing. The resources it takes to create a slightly larger kitchen and slightly larger bathroom space and things like that. It’s not that much harder to create a home for 10 people than it is for four people, but you can save a lot of money and a lot of embodied energy being under the one compact envelope. If everyone is in their own tiny house you have a greater area of building shell exposed to the elements, especially in somewhere like Castlemaine, so it’s about trying to moderate that energy use. My background is as a building designer. I studied architecture, but also have had a particular focus on passive solar design, high performance building, Passivhaus and that sort of thing. Having everyone nested together, it’s the same reason why you have everyone in those apartments in Europe, because it’s a very warm, tight typology.

I lived in an eco-community called Wurrukan in Gippsland for 2 or 3 years in my 20’s. People had really little tiny houses, cob cabins and earth sheds, but they were all less than 10 square metres, and we all congregated in a retro-fitted shed for our living space, and that was very formative as an experience. All the meals were communally cooked and we lived quite close with each other. Sometimes it was hard, the conditions were pretty trying, but it was also really satisfying, nestling together as a team, all the shared meals, it was very beautiful. That was a homestead as well, where we grew a large amount of our own produce. It was a bit dank, but here we’re trying to do a lot of the things we did there, but in a nicer and more robust way I guess.

Keppel: So how long have you been living there for now?

Dan: We’ve been living onsite since February last year, and the house will be finished in about a week, so we’ll be moving into it very soon. The majority of the other occupants have been living offsite, so it’s mostly just been us here while we built the house. We’ve tried to do everything legally through the council, and you can get a permit to live legally on your property while you’re building.

Keppel: So you’re at that stage where you’re about to enter into living together. Are you feeling excited?

Nicola: We’re excited but in the same way like a marathon runner is excited when they’re getting near the finish line: exhausted and about to collapse and covered in sweat, but you’re sure that once it’s all over you’ll actually feel great (laughs).

Keppel: And do you have all the people you need, or are you still recruiting, as it were?

Nicola: Yeah, we’ve got all the rooms filled actually. Just last week we filled the last two, and it’s a full house now – just in the nick of time actually!

Keppel: So how many people will be living there?

Dan: There will be 11 adults and 4 kids, and one kid in utero.

Keppel: So the general approach of your community is that you’ll be eating together and then doing other things on the property together: is that right?

Nicola: Yeah that’s definitely the plan. We are thinking of food as the central theme: growing it and eating it as a point of connection. Having visited a lot of different communities and lived in various types of shared living for so very long, I’ve realised it needs to have a community glue; and without having a religious overtone – and we don’t, it’s kind of egalitarian and agnostic – you need to create a connecting theme. It’s about why are we living together, apart from having a roof over our heads?  If you look at cultures across the world, that’s when people come together, that’s what brings people together: food and sharing meals.

Even the way the house is designed, with the garden out the front and the orchard out the back, the food comes into the house. It’s very zoned in a Permaculture way of food coming in and being literally at the heart of the house in the kitchen, like the kitchen is literally in the middle of the house.

Keppel: So Permaculture has been another significant influence on the way you’ve developed this project?

Nicola: Yeah for sure. I guess we see Permaculture as a type of systems thinking, and I think we’re really into systems thinking.  So we’re working with Permaculture principles in the stereotypical sense that people usually think of it, like gardens and orchards and land management, but also social Permaculture, how those systems function as well, and how different people use spaces. That’s probably been influenced by Dan’s architecture experience: how does place, structure and buildings shape people’s lives. And also with me as an allied health professional looking at more of a public health perspective: what influences people’s wellbeing psychologically, physically? What do people need to thrive? And we’ve kind of merged that together to create this project. This goes back to that idea that it’s better for planet and for people.

Keppel: So the two things that often come up for people as concerns around community living are around personal space and around conflict resolution. How do you meet your own needs for balancing shared space and personal space? And then what strategies do you have for building collective cohesion and resolving conflicts?

Dan: I probably trend introvert actually, I get most of my recharge from solo times. But as well as the (private) bedroom, trying to offer a whole buffet of spaces that you can head to. So if you’re feeling like you want something spicy, you can head for the main shared living space, where people are cooking and the kids are tearing everyone’s hair out; or there are a few other spaces in the main house, like the secondary lounge, which is more of a chill space for adults who are doing yoga, having a cup of tea or catching up with friends. Then there’s another space, a work from home study space during the day and more of a quiet space during the evening. Then we’re lucky enough to be on 10 acres, with a really lovely dam and the bush next door, so we’re creating lots of really nice outdoor nooks as well, several verandahs, some people will set up yurts, and long term maybe creating a tea house near the dam overlooking the forest.

Nicola: I think it’s a fascinating question, anthropologically, to look back at other cultures in the past, and also other cultures across the world, and the idea of privacy and personal space is such a cultural one, a modern concept, and very British and European. My family are all from South Africa, and my grandmother was born and raised in Lesotho in a small tribal village, and you’d have 8 people living in a 15 square metre hut.  I think the concept of personal space is so different, and I think in contrast to have a whole 16 square metres all to yourself, and then also a kitchen and lounge and living and study space and deck… From that perspective, it seems really sufficient, but I know that for most people it’s not. It’s a bit of an unpopular opinion, but I think to adapt to climate change and use less resources, we actually need to start challenging some of those ideas a little bit.

Dan:  I think this segues nicely into the question about conflict.  I think there are skill sets that you would have if you grew up living in community, like the way you use the space, how you interact with others, and norms that are created around that.

Nicola: We’ve lost those skills as a culture, but we believe we can learn them again.

Dan: We’re several generations deep in the nuclear family mode. I’d love to say I have a formula around conflict management, but to be honest I think it’s probably going to be a bit crap (laughter), as a lot of the residents have probably had some, but not super extensive years of share housing or whatever, and different levels of learning how to resolve tensions with others. There are lots of cool tools out there, like non-violent communication, we’re really supportive of that, the basic recipe of talking to what you’re feeling and what your needs are rather than making assertions about the wrongs of another. I think that’s a great starting point, and also having people who act as facilitators who keep people on track in the way we communicate with each other and bringing different voices into equality and things like that. I’ve shadowed some people who did the Commonground Glen Ochre approach to facilitation and group work, and I think that’s massive, and will be a key to holding people to account in the way they communicate and bringing out the best in each other.

Keppel: And I think you mentioned on your Facebook the idea of a regular weekly meeting and sharing space to support community cohesion. Is that right?

Nicola: Yeah, that’s a system we proposed, and a lot of the early residents who’ve been onboard for a while, they’ve also suggested. I lived in an 8 person share house before I moved to Castlemaine, and we did that. So the structure was a meeting every week, and one was more logistical and practical and making decisions, and the other one was what they called a ‘heart share’, talking about how you’re feeling and really getting to know each other, or doing some exercises that were about the emotional, relational side of being together. Some people might find that hard or offputting, but I actually found it so, so rich and rewarding and connecting, and from that process I felt like I knew these people so deeply in a way that I wouldn’t have otherwise.  When that emotional and personal stuff can be aired and cleared and heard – we have such a deep need to be heard and to belong! – once that need is met it seems like the challenges and little differences just melt away, they seem to be able to be resolved a lot more easily, because that foundation of trust and connection is there.

Dan: I think that’s a big part of having dinners together most nights as well – it serves a similar function. Catching everyone’s stories at the end of the day and connecting. I think just having that time where you feel exposed and empathetic. A lot of eco-villages are designed where people are in their own houses, and maybe have some common facilities, but the vast majority of the time they’re just doing their own thing in their house of an evening, and I think in that situation you’d be missing a lot of the natural glue that would come from being together and around each other on a daily basis.  If you build that strong foundation of goodwill it should grease the wheels a bit.

Keppel: What’s your vision for what Open Fields would be like in 10 years’ time? How would you like it to be?

Dan: We’ll have a crop of kids who will be in that age range, and ideally we’ll have a crop of kids who are really practically minded and can milk the goats, etc. but also just running around in the forest and having that. Then having people who’ve been there for ages and feeling like really good friends, and having all the gardens and orchard really producing.

Nicola: Trees growing, having the whole land filled with trees and shrubs.

Dan: Maybe there are a few different rituals and rhythms, like having the passata day and the walnut harvest day.

Nicola: And the smell of bread baking from the oven, mint tea from the garden, potato mash for dinner from your home grown potatoes, followed with an apple pie from your own apples… And of course in this world, everyone is completely harmonious and everyone is getting along wonderfully (laughs).

Dan: No, no, I think that would boring.

Nicola: It’d be too boring (laughs).

Dan: I think healthy debate is a positive sign, it’s just that hopefully it’s done well, and we’re all arguing in a productive and connecting way, rather than a narky, destructive way (laughs).  That’s the dream, that we build those skills and those cultures.


Arts and Culture

Central Victorian Indigenous Film Festival- Yandoit, Castlemaine, Glenlyon, Bendigo

When: 27th May – 3rd June; Where: Various locations across Bendigo and Central Victoria

Cost: some events are free, others are ticketed

More information and bookings: https://www.bendigo.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/2024-05/CVIFF-2024-flyer.pdf

Yandoit Cultural will be screening  a series of bush food short films set on Djaara Country, plus feature film:  ‘The Last Daughter’ –  Brenda’s first memories are of growing up in a loving white foster family, before she was suddenly taken away and returned to her Aboriginal family. A documentary about Brenda’s journey to unearth the truth about her past, and to reconcile the two sides of her family.

The series of bush food short films, created by Auntie Julie McHale, feature local indigenous youth and teachers on Djaara country sharing knowledge and secrets of Australian bush foods. Created to accompany Auntie Julie’s tucker boxes and filmed in her private garden, these short films, produced by local film makers People Pictures, are warm intimate descriptions that reveal the quality and uses of these unique plants.

When: Sunday June 2nd, 2024, 4.45pm for a 5.00pm start

Where: Yandoit Cultural , Uniting Church Rd , off High St, Yandoit

Castlemaine Documentary Film Festival

The 2024 Castlemaine Documentary Festival Program is now live: https://cdocff.com.au/

The Castlemaine Documentary Festival is a cinematic winter feast held at the iconic Theatre Royal Castlemaine. With a curated program of exceptional films from Australia and abroad, the festival offers an unforgettable immersive cinema experience. This year’s festival also includes a family friendly program screening in the YURT microcinema, filmmaker talks and a Saturday night post-screening party with The Afrobiotics. Get your festival pass early to be in the running for great prizes and to receive discounts on food and drink. Be there 14 to 16 June for this year’s 10th-anniversary edition. 

This year’s Festival will be held on the weekend of 14-16 June in the heart of regional Victoria on Dja Dja Wurrung Country. Explore the programme and come together with fellow film-lovers to immerse yourself in this 2024 edition. We promise a stellar selection of films, each more fascinating than fiction.

OPENING NIGHT starts at 5pm at Theatre Royal. Castlemaine-based ensemble Brazuzul will usher the Festival in with the joyous rhythms and sounds of forró – a vibrant music and dance form from north-eastern Brazil. Then our screenings begin with two short films celebrating regional culture and ingenuity: a beautiful moment, featuring Castlemaine’s own Corker Orchestra, Mainsong and Brazazul; and Ag Fab: From Paddock to Catwalk.

Afterwards, stay on at Theatre Royal and step into the courtyard for warming, delicious sustenance at the Soup Bar, or head to Love Shack for a drink. Then find your seat for WINHANGANAHA, a brilliant new film – “a poem in five acts” examining archival records’ impact on First Nations people – by award-winning Wiradjuri poet and artist Jazz Money, whom we’re thrilled to welcome as a festival guest.

LOCALS 2024: Fun for all, 5pm Saturday 15 June: LOCALS is our annual family-fun showcase, premiering fresh films by gifted creatives from Castlemaine and surrounds – from Bendigo to Ballarat and Gisborne to Maryborough. After the screening, show your support by voting for your favourite.This is a celebration of local stories told by the local voices who took a leap of faith with us. We commend them all!  Submissions have now closed; we’ll add details on the selected films to our programme page soon.

Newstead Arts Hub- What’s On


Just below the Surface- A reimagining of a creature and coral wonderland. Just below the surface is a reimagining of a creature and coral wonderland by artists Jody Galvin & Kylie Cuthbertson. Be immersed in their world of colour and delight.



Traditional Straw Plaiting & ‘Corn Dollies’

Workshop: Sun 16 June, 10am-3pm – with Elizabeth Woodroofe 

Cost: $135 Hub members, $150 (full price) All materials included.

Elizabeth is a member of the Guild of Straw Craftsmen. See more of her work on Instagram @corn_dollies


Tripartite: Exhibition: Weekends, Sat 1 – Sun 23 June, 10am-4pm – Gallery 2&3 

In ancient Egypt the word sculptor means  “…he who keeps alive.”

Lawrence Winder’s Figurative Sculptures range from 1/3 life size to full size. Influenced by French 19th century artists Jules Dalou and Edgar Degas, by “Constructivist” sculptors of the “Dada” period and by Asian culture, particularly Kabuki dance and Japanese architectural space. Lawrence’s sculptures are from clay models and cast in resin then given a bronze or rusted iron patina. Lawrence has created a beautiful exhibition of sculpture in three parts.


 Fire Stories: Sat 22 June, 5pm-8pm. All welcome – Free

Come along and warm yourself by the fire! Fire Stories marks the official opening of our wonderful Winter Program!!
With a special reading by author Leni Shelton PLUS you can come along and tell a story of your own, or a favourite found elsewhere, around the fire. There will be mulled wine and soups with homemade bread rolls to buy.  All WELCOME – no tickets needed just come and enjoy the community spirit.

Keep your eye out for our special edition Winter Program for more details.

Charcoal Painting, Stories from the Fire

Workshop: Sat 29 June, 10am-3.30pm – with Melissa O’Rourke
Cost: $125 Hub members, $140 (full price) All materials included.

Charcoal Painting, Stories from the Fire- A painting and drawing workshop. Facilitated by Melissa O’Rourke.

Using charcoal we collect from the embers of our fire stories, work with artist Melissa O’Rourke to weave your own stories into free flowing charcoal drawings. Learn some of the process used to make her latest body of work The Company of Women. Suits all levels of experience from absolute beginner onwards. All materials are provided for you.

Events at Radius Art Gallery- Hepburn Springs

Evening of Soulful Sounds – A Night of Kirtan with Sarah and Nina


Join us for sacred mantras and divine sounds in ‘call and response’ style. Raise your vibration and bring healing frequencies to your body and mind.
Sarah and Nina will guide you on a magical journey of connection and free expression.

Sat 15th June 6pm for chai | 6.15 Start



Community Fundraiser – Sweet Sounds of Honey Tone

Let the dulcet tones of our very own local town choir dance upon your ear drums.

This annual fundraiser is bound to warm your heart and soul.  For more info contact Suzanne Hobson: 0448 564 362

Monday 24th June @Radius
7.00 pm – 8.30 pm


Northern Arts Hotel

THE COOLROOM DIARY [Click on links for event details]
MUSIC GIGS  [Usually at 7.30pm, Sunday 5.30pm]

Friday 24 May | Sally Ford and the Idiomatics
Saturday 25 May | Kris Mizzi and Mandy Connell
Fri 31 May | Enda Kenny: ‘After the Interval’ Album Launch Tour 
Sat 8 & Sun 9 June | Castlemaine Jazz Festival
Friday 14 June | Áine Tyrrell: People Like Me & You Tour
Saturday 22 June | Ade Ishs Trio live at The Coolroom
Sunday 23 June 5.30pm | Duos Concert Fundraiser for Castlemaine Graffiti Busters
Saturday 29 June | Peter & the Wolves: Hibernation Hootenanny
Sunday 26 May 2.30pm | Free Secret Movie Matinee
Sunday 2 June 2.30pm | Film of the Concert in Support of Yes
Monday 3 June 6pm | Workshop: Towards Collective Self Sufficiency
Thursday 23 May 4pm | Maine-Ly Ukes
Saturday 25 May 2.30pm | PoetiCas with Shari Kocher 
Tuesday 28 May | Open Potluck Dinner at 7pm

Food Growing, Farming and Food Security

Community Apple Juicing Day

When: Sunday 2nd June, 10am – 3pm

Where: Harcourt Organic Food Cooperative, 69 Danns Rd, Harcourt

We’re so thrilled to be hosting our annual and much-loved Apple Juicing Day this year at Harcourt Organic Farming Coop amongst the foothills of Leanganook. Bring along bottles for juice, a knife, chopping board, tea towels, and a cup for tea! Learn how to crush and press apples for juice to take home and drink fresh, or turn into cider vinegar.

This will be a family-friendly event in partnership with Food Links Mount Alexander, and will be facilitated by Joel Meadows.


  • We will be using non-organic apples for this juicing day, and it is important that we respect the requirements of the Coop’s Organic certification. No pulp or juice is to be left on the property, and this will all be taken away on the day in food-grade tubs. If you’d like to take some home for your compost or animals, please bring a clean vessel.
  • Please carpool whereverpossible as parking is limited at the site. Send us a message if you have a spare car space or need some help finding a ride.


Apple Harvest

When: Thursday 30th May from 9.30am

Where: Meet at Hub Plot Garden on Templeton St, Castlemaine

Join us for the last apple harvest of the season TOMORROW in Harcourt. These apples will go towards our Community Apple Juicing day, but there will be plenty to take home, of course. Please bring a bag or box for your share.

Meet at the Hub Plot Garden on Templeton Street at 9.30am and we’ll convoy from there. Send us a message on Facebook or via email for directions if you’re arriving a little later. We’ll be out picking until around 1pm on both days

Tea and light snacks provided, please bring something to share if you’re able!

Harcourt Organic Farming Coop

Discover the Unique Charm of Hard-to-Find Multigraft Apple Trees

If you’ve been following Carr’s Organic Fruit Tree Nursery for a while you’ll know we’re passionate about preserving and promoting heritage varieties. You’ve probably twigged to the fact that new things are happening around the farm, and the nursery is no exception.

This year, we’re excited to introduce you to a truly innovative and versatile addition to your garden: multigraft apple trees.

As members of the Harcourt Organic Farming Co-op (and the only certified organic nursery in Victoria), we focus on building healthy soil for our trees to give them the best possible start in life.We also specialise in hard-to-find varieties and multigrafts. However, it can be hard to persuade people to take a risk on a variety they’ve never heard of.

In a light-bulb moment last spring, we came up with a solution! 

Our brand-new range of multigrafts combines modern varieties like Gala, Fuji, and Pink Lady with the heritage varieties that desperately need to be preserved for the future.We’re hoping the security of planting a known variety will help people overcome the perceived risk of planting a variety they’ve never heard of. Plus, we had SO much fun creating this beautiful range of delicious multigrafts.

Join Us for Two Special Events: Co-op Relaunch & Small Farm Enterprise Planning

We are excited to invite you to two upcoming events designed to celebrate the relaunch of the Harcourt Organic Farming Co-op and to support aspiring and current small farmers. Whether you’re interested in joining our co-operative community, developing your own farm enterprise, or a keen eater who cares about your local food system, we hope these events will provide some valuable insight into what we’ve been working on, opportunities and ‘what’s next’ for the Co-op.

All of these events are made possible thanks to our Innovate to Regenerate Grant from WWF-Australia.

Event 1: Co-op Relaunch & Recruitment Webinar

Date: Thursday, June 6th, Time: 7-8pm

Join us for a celebration of the HOFC Co-op relaunch! This webinar will include:

Screening of Our New Short Film: Get an inside look at our cooperative’s journey and achievements. We’ve been working with Mitch at MDP Photography & Video and are excited to share the results!

Sharing of New Collaborative Farming Resources: Discover tools and guides to support sustainable farming practices. Interactive Q&A Session: Engage with our team and get your questions answered.

This event is perfect for anyone interested in learning more about our cooperative and how you can get involved. Register here.

Event 2: Small Farm Enterprise Planning Webinar & Ideas Jam

Date: Tuesday 11th June, Time: 7-8pm

For those seriously considering joining our Co-op or refining their farm enterprise plans, we are hosting a more focused session. This event will feature:

Interactive Q&A: Ask detailed questions about the Co-op and membership benefits.

Enterprise Proposal Shaping: Receive guidance on developing and refining your small-farm enterprise idea, and support with submitting an EOI to join the Co-op.

Personalized Feedback: Get constructive critiques and suggestions from our crew.

This session is ideal for those who want a deeper understanding of the Co-op and personalized support in shaping their farming ideas. Register your interest here. You can also read more about the opportunities to join the Co-op currently available here.

Ecology and Environment

Natural Newstead and Thornbills

Find out more about the varieties of Thornbills in our area:  https://geoffpark.wordpress.com/2024/05/25/three-thornbills-2/

Predictably the Brown Thornbills were foraging in the mid layer of shrubs, Buff-rumped Thornbills on the ground, with occasional forays into low shrubs, while the Striated Thornbills chased insects amongst the foliage of a sapling Red Box.

When viewed close-up however the distinguishing features of the species in this group are evident. This blog post from 2021 provides a guide for sorting out our local thornbills.

North Central Catchment Management

June edition of the North Central Chat: https://www.nccma.vic.gov.au/resources/publications/north-central-chat-june-2024

First Nations

Reconciliation Week

Murnong Mummas: Wurrumuk/Djurrung/Dhurra – Wirral/Burukil 2024 Update

Murnong Mummas is an Indigenous-lead social enterprise involved in the native foods and botanicals sector.

We’re pleased to share a little update on the progress at Murnong Mummas for the beginning of 2024. We’ve been busy on a number of fronts- focusing on soil health, cultural connection, plant diversity, and community engagement. We’ve been making use of foraged goods and getting excited about tasting some of the new things coming up in the Bushfoods plot.

We’ve also been working on updating and expanding infrastructure in the garden, like our irrigation and fencing. With hungry chooks and an excited Jedda nearby, it’s become a little more pressing to add a barrier between pecking beaks and newly planted groundcover. Jedda isn’t as destructive, her morning greetings and mulch spreading has become an important part of our workday.

We’ve also been going ham on the propagating and germinating front – germinating seeds from various fruits like Kangaroo Apple, Muntries and Ruby Saltbush, veggies like Murnong and Warrigal Greens, herbs like Old Man Saltbush and Native Lemongrass, weaving plants like Lomandra and Flax Lily, flowers to attract birds and insects like Native Broom and various Everlasting Paper Daisy varieties and even plants to grow seeds to flour – Kangaroo Grass and Bunya Trees. We’ve also been working hard to propagate 60 hardwood cuttings of Grevillea and Thryptamine – hoping to beef up our pollinator game after slowly reducing the number of non-indigenous plants still hanging around in the plot. As you can see, we have a lot on the go!

We’re currently in the process of planning a range of workshops and tour updates that will delve deeper into our sustainable gardening practices, share valuable Indigenous knowledge with others, and introduce participants to the unique world of First Nations foods.

Lots more information about the work of Murnong Mummas including nourishing the ground , celebrating women’s’ wisdom and indigenous knowledge , expanding plant palette, bunya bounty , kangaroo grass germination, and food sovereignty:  https://www.murnongmummas.com.au/

Photo: Old Man Saltbush and River Mint in view of Leanganook

New Sustainability and First Nations Knowledge Book Club Castlemaine

The aim is to read books with a sustainability or First Nations knowledge focus. There are about 11 possible titles that have a set of 10 in the library’s current book club collection and we aim to alternate between those and other books that members recommend and share. Meetings will be Tuesday nights, monthly, at a venue (probably a pub) in Castlemaine and time to be agreed by the group.

Contact if interested: Helen: Helenmathwin@yahoo.co.uk  or Kath: Kathw@ncgrl.vic.gov.au at Goldfields Library.


Sustainable Living Resources

YIMBY composter wins award!

Grow It Local award-winner Mikaela Beckley (pictured) is one of 19 YIMBY composters in Mt Alexander shire.

She collects and composts kitchen scraps from 20 of her neighbours each week, and has processed nearly 5,000 kilos of organics in her backyard using the unique YIMBY hot-composting method.YIMBY (Yes In My Back Yard) is a unique composting project based in Castlemaine, building community, diverting organics from landfill and improving our soil.

Right now, there are 19 composters like Mikaela, collecting from over 250 households in the shire, and more are coming! To find out more, visit www.yimbycompost.com.

Castlemaine Free University and Degrowth Central Victoria- Essentials Workshop



When: Monday 3rd June at 6pm

Where: Northern Arts Hotel, 359 Barker St, Castlemaine

Following on from the Degrowth Central Victoria launch on May 13th the next CFU event will focus on essentials-  towards local collective sufficiency.

For more information, visit Degrowth Central Victoria

The image is a photo of a mural at the longstanding squat – social centre, residence, and community gardens – Can Masdeu, Collserola Park, Canyelles, Barcelona a project led by Beth Ferguson (photographer, Anitra Nelson).

Castlemaine Free University- Occupy Wall Street




When: Monday 3rd June at 6pm

Where: Northern Arts Hotel, 359 Barker St, Castlemaine

Come along to hear and chat with Marisa Holmes, occupier from day one of Occupy Wall Street, director of OWS film All day, All Week in conversation with Friends of the Earth Campaigns Co-ordinator Cam Walker. What lessons can we apply to climate action and social justice protests, blockades and social change today?

Free event. Drinks can be purchased at the bar.

Repair Cafes


When and Where: Sunday June 16th, 1-4pm at Victoria Park Pavillion, Ballan Rd, Daylesford


When and Where: Last  Sunday of each month, June 30th, 10am to 1.00pm  at Castlemaine Community House, 30 Templeton St.  For further information join our Facebook group, visit our website or call Chris on 5470 5508.

Creswick Repair and Share

When and Where: Third Sunday of each month at Creswick Community House and hall.

Photo: Mara Ripani

Renewable Newstead

Are you interested in buying 100% green power from the Newstead Solar Farm? The retail offer from the company retailing the 100% green power from the Newstead Solar Farm, Flow Power, is now available.

To sign up as a customer, download the Flow Power app from either Google Play or the App Store. For information about the offer, go to the Flow Power website https://flowpower.com.au/residential/ or read the attached information sheet.

Here are three top reasons to sign up.

  • You’ll be buying 100% green power which is better for the planet
  • You’ll be supporting the Newstead Community Energy Project (solar farm and battery)
  • You’ll be eligible for a $100 bonus which you can choose to contribute to a Newstead club or organisation or you can keep it for yourself. More details about this Local Community Benefit offer are coming soon.

While the Newstead Solar Farm is not yet generating electricity for commercial sale – construction is due for completion in June and commercial generation is expected to begin in July – here’s what happens in the meantime for households who sign up now as Flow Power customers. If you sign up now as a Flow Power customer and your electricity supply address is in or near Newstead, you will receive electricity via the grid that’s billed from one of Flow Power’s other renewable energy generation sites, at Karadoc near Ouyen, until such time as the Newstead Solar Farm comes online and begins to generate electricity. (Flow Power sources power from renewable energy sources – solar and wind – exclusively.)

For Newstead Solar Farm news and project updates, subscribe to RN’s e-newsletter at https://renewablenewstead.com.au/news-resources/

For further information: Email at info@renewablenewstead.com.au or call m: 0403 801 147

Mt Alexander Sustainability Group

7 Star Energy Rating Requirements for Builders

When building a new home you must comply with the energy efficiency requirements of the National Construction Code Volume Two. These requirements aim to reduce the environmental impacts of buildings by reducing the amount of energy consumed. There are several options forcomplying with the energy efficiency requirements with the most common option being anassessment under the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS).

From 1 May 2024, new homes will be required to achieve 7-stars and a whole-of-home rating not less than 60 under the NatHERS option. A higher star and whole-of-home rating means the building is more energy efficient. MASG’s Mick Lewin recently ran a workshop for members of the building industry in Mount Alexander Shire to explain what this means for home builders.

To learn more, head to the Victorian Building Authority website and watch the Nathers explanation video

Building Community

Castlemaine Community Co-op

At our FIRST EVER fundraising Working Bee members set a goal of raising $10,000 for due diligence on the Hub (for building inspections, valuation, legal checks, etc). We have since raised $5,240, but need your help to find the final $4,760.

There are two things you can do to help!

  1. Ask a friend to join and become a founding member before June 30 (so we double our membership): If every current member recruits one more member, we will raise the money we need! Word of mouth has been proven to be the best way for the Co-op to grow. Membership is only $40/$20.To help you explain what we are about we have provided:
    – A 2-page information leaflet about the Co-op (PDF Link);
    – A script you can use when talking to people;
    – An example of a caption you can share on Facebook (give our page a ‘like’ while you’re there!). You can also share our last post or other content that you think your network might be interested in.
  2. Donate: If you have some spare money sitting somewhere that was waiting to be put to a good use, please contact us at info@castlemaine.coop.

We are very close to being able to launch an offer to buy the Hub. Please help us get over the line – together we can put Castlemaine’s assets in the community’s hands.

Castlemaine Johannine Community aka the Grail Community

The Castlemaine Johannine Community practises ‘pagan Christianity’, a spirituality based in the mystical tradition of St John, Mary Magdalene and the Rosicrucians, and grounded in deep reverence for the sacredness of the Earth and the wisdom of the ancient Celtic, Aboriginal and Native American spiritual traditions. Through both inner and outer work, we seek to collaborate with the impulse of Christ and Sophia to create bring healing and renewal to our communities and the Earth. We meet monthly for Eucharist services and other special events shaped by the sacred calendar of the seasonal Christian and Celtic festivals.

This month’s events include a St John’s Tide Eucharist on Sunday 23rd June from 11am followed by a shared lunch. St John’s Tide (or St John’s Day) celebrates the life of John the Apostle who, along with Mary Magdalene, was considered the disciple who most understood the esoteric wisdom of Christ Jesus’ teachings

Where: the Grail Chapel, 75 McMillans Rd, Green Gully

Cost: all events are free, donations are welcome. Enquiries: contact Ken Killeen on 0423 194 878 or email: johannine@hotmail.com

Yandoit Faith Community

A faith community is evolving at the old Uniting Church in Yandoit. A community where we can explore the sacred and the spirit in our lives. At our next gathering we will be reflecting on the inspiring life of  Theresa of Avila, a 16th century mystic in Spain , who created the silent order of Carmelites.

Supported by Castlemaine Uniting Church Minister, Rev Sarah Tomilson, and Church Council, and Yandoit Cultural.  

Our next gathering is Saturday June 22nd, 2pm at Yandoit Cultural- the old church in the bush, Uniting Church Rd, off High St Yandoit. All welcome.

For more information: nikki.marshall@mmnet.com.au or mobile – 0432 232 073

Goldfields Libraries


World Localisation Day

World Localization Day is an annual celebration convened by the international NGO Local Futures. On June 21 and throughout the month of June, Local Futures and an array of amazing Global Partners host in-person and online events to highlight localization as a strategy for change. And not least, to celebrate the many efforts and initiatives that foster ecological economies, thriving communities and healthy local food systems.

Take part in World Localization Day as a group or individual and join the growing movement of people building a better world, from the ground up.

Register your WLD event

Watch the introductory video:


Local Government News

Future Hepburn- Rural Hepburn strategy- Community Feedback Required

Hepburn Shire Council has released its Draft Rural Strategy for community feedback. There are some significant changes proposed to Farm Zones in this draft plan. Download the Rural Hepburn Strategy at the website link below.

Rural Hepburn: Agricultural Land and Rural Settlement Strategy will provide a comprehensive planning and action framework to manage the use and development of private rural land (land outside our main towns).
The closing date for feedback is June 12th
For details on other Community Information Sessions on both the draft Township Structure Plans and Rural Hepburn, to view the draft documents and provide feedback, visit https://participate.hepburn.vic.gov.au/future-hepburn
There are also draft Town Structure Plans for Daylesford/Hepburn, Glenlyon, Clunes, Creswick and Trentham for feedback.
These changes will shape the next 30 years of development and growth in Hepburn Shire.


Hepburn Life Newsletter



Upcoming Council Elections – One-on-one information sessions for Councillor candidates

Are you thinking about running for Council this year? Mt Alexander Shire is offering one-on-one information sessions with our CEO, Mayor and Deputy Mayor to learn what it means to be a Councillor.

Sign up for a session

Have your say with Shape Mount Alexander

We’re lucky to have a knowledgeable and passionate community. We use your valuable feedback to inform our projects and general decision-making.

Let’s keep talking
Find out how to talk to us, or leave your ideas and feedback on any topic, and at any time!

Customer First Strategy
We want to make it easier for you to connect with and use our services, so we need your stories, feedback and suggestions to help us understand which areas to focus on.

Visit Shape Mount Alexander for details

Workshops and Courses

Work That Reconnects Workshop

Growing our connection with all that lives, From The Work That Reconnects

Date Saturday June 8 Time 1pm-5pm
Venue: Green Gully Victoria
A Community Event
The workshops provide a safe space for a deep connection with all life and the opportunity to share that with fellow travellers.
Processes include Loving Kindness Meditation, a Mandala activity and The Milling- an experience of shifting from overload to simply being present.
It is led by experienced WTR facilitators to serve a cultural shift towards reconnection with all beings and the planet.
Inquiries Shana 0457 496 864 or Diane 0421 510 017

Booking essential via Email: dianethompson61@gmail.com
Cost: By Donation

Systemic Family Constellations – EXPLORE YOUR INNER DYNAMICS


This workshop explores the dynamics within yourself and your family system. Counsellor and Art Therapist Amy Jones lives locally and has been a part of the constellations community since 2019.  For more information: amyjonesroberts@yahoo.com.au

SUN JUNE 2nd – 9.30 – 4.30pm @RADIUS Gallery, 76 Main Rd Hepburn Springs 

For more information about Radius Gallery : www.radiusart.com.au

Make a Change online workshops

Expand Your Impact is a FREE online initiative that challenges you to think a little differently & grow your success, in any area of life!

Delivered by Make A Change in collaboration with 4 regional partners, this program is for anyone who wants to do more, learn more, connect better, or generally be more effective.

All residents, businesses & organisations in Loddon, Pyrenees, Yarriambiack & Northern Grampians Councils
are invited to take part from March to June 2024.

Register NOW for next workshop series starting 5th June
Sign up now to stay up to date with the latest on this project


Chi Gong and Tai Chi on Wednesdays at Radius Gallery

Chi Gong and Meditation with Damien Smith

6.30 and 7.30am

SHARON WOULF 5.30 pm 6.30 pm



Helping Caregivers of Autistic Loved Ones

Help caregivers of Autistic loved ones to find meaning and purpose and overcome stressful or negative thinking patterns.

Transform anxiety and overwhelm into clarity and empowerment through the transformative power of deep listening

Join me online Monday 10 June 6-7.30pm

Samantha Wittenberg  Boost your Wellbeing Through Empathic Listening



Earlier this month the local group, Central Vic Climate Action held a “Funeral for Fossil Fuels” in Bendigo to get the message across to our MP, Lisa Chesters that all extraction of coal oil and gas must end if we are to avoid catastrophic global heating greater than 1.5 degrees C.  A coffin full of “smouldering coal” was delivered to her door by veiled pall bearers dressed in black, and there were some songs, chants and speeches. This is an extract from a speech given on the day by Trevor Scott during a short funeral procession through the city.

“All the storms, floods and fires that we see all-to-often on national television – they’re getting more serious and more frequent every day, not only here in Australia but also around the world. A lot of the people who lived in the path of the cyclone, or were downwind of the bushfire, have already lost their loved ones, their homes, their pets and all the things they held dear. Some unlucky ones have even lost their lives, not to mention the forests and the millions of wild creatures that have already perished. We can’t “fix” the climate by ourselves but because it’s Humans who have caused the Earth to overheat, I believe and so do many others, that Humans can fix it, but only if we act straightaway. We should have started decades ago so we are running out of time. The way I see it, stopping the juggernaut of climate change is firstly in the hands of the giant fossil fuel companies, secondly in the banks who lend them the money, and thirdly in the hands of our federal government members. All of them have shown that they have no will to do so, and, unfortunately for us, there are new fossil fuel projects on the table today in Canberra.

Yes, it’s true that they have the lion’s share of the power and we have very little; but the big question for us is, how do we shift that power? You’ve all heard of Greta Thunberg. She alone recognised that there was a climate crisis and started striking every day outside the Swedish parliament until others joined her. In a relatively short time she had set up a global movement that is ongoing and is still growing. Another famous woman called Margaret Read once said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed individuals can change the world. In fact it’s the only thing that ever has”.  After the procession the mourners gathered once more in front of Lisa Chesters’ office in Myers Street. Trevor Scott spoke again and said:

“Lisa Chesters, you recently said that the federal government was transitioning out of coal into renewable energy. “But we can’t put the cart before the horse” you said. “We have to make sure that we’re building the renewable energy grid, that we’re building those transmission lines to get more renewable energy into our system. It’s got to be a just transition and that’s what our government is working towards” you said. This is admirable, Lisa and I’m very happy to hear this news. But decades have gone by without any action at all. My question to you is how long will these transmission lines be carrying fossil fuel- generated electricity while this government continues to allow new coal mines to open, and fracking and gas pipeline projects to continue, and worst of all, continues to pay out huge sums of taxpayers money to fossil fuel corporations in the form of rebates? I would appreciate an answer to this question Lisa, even if its only an estimate.”The question was delivered to her office in the form of a letter.

Trevor Scott, 23 May 2024

Food for Thought

The Pollinators of Slovenia – an interactive documentary


Milkwood – Skills for Living like it Matters


Practising Transition- Being Yourself in Action


Rasmus Nørgaard on building a sustainable future The Wisdom & Action Podcast


Simon Michaux: Industrial transformation away from fossil fuels will not go as planned


Earthworker practice, vision and strategy-  “Weathering the Coming Storm”.

A series of four in-person talks in June.  The Earthworker ecosystem –  Sunday June 2nd 3pm: A discussion with members of the various worker-owned cooperatives in the Earthworker network, including Earthworker Smart Energy Cooperative, Hope Cooperative, Earthworker Construction Cooperative and Earthworker Energy Manufacturing Cooperative

Rocking the FoundationsSaturday June 8th 3pm: Discussion and film screening on the history of the BLF and green bans and how it informs Earthworker vision and strategy

Reflections on RedgumSunday June 16th 3pm: A presentation by Redgum Cooperative co-founders about the successes and failures and lessons of Redgum Cleaning Cooperative (followed by a bushdance with the Earthworker Bushband)

History and politics of EarthworkerSaturday June 22nd 3pm: An exploration of the economic and political analysis out of which Earthworker emerged

All talks will be held in Naarm at Black Spark Cultural Centre on Gladstone Avenue in Northcote. If possible please RSVP using the Facebook links above.

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